Game: Super Mario Galaxy
Platform: Nintendo Wii
When the Super Mario Brothers series began with its humble, homely roots on the Nintendo Entertainment System it started the platformer genre as it would be known for years to come. Some would argue that there were platformers before it, but none captured the gameplay style that future games would emulate. Super Mario Galaxy brings this saga to a close and acts as a book end for the genre as a whole.
The game begins with something out of fan fiction: the Mushroom Kingdom being seiged by airships led by both Bowser and Magikoopa. They lay waste to it and take the castle, with the help of a large space ship, into outer space. The entire scene is more dramatic and cinematic then the rest of the Mario games combined. Mario jumps to follow and is brought on a journey far out of the kingdom and into the galaxy.
Landing on a large flying platform, Mario meets other characters that explain the situation in a way he can undertand. A mysterious woman by the name of Princess Rosalina explains that Peach is being held at the center of the galaxy. She tells him that powering the platform, which is actually a ship, will take you there to the rescue. The game unveils more plot as it goes on including a missing Luigi and Rosalina’s past, but those are all things that can be left unspoken of for now.
The levels that follow don’t have any specific rhyme or reason to them in the ways of themes. A blend of worlds we have seen in other Mario games are given twists and turns that only Myamoto could think of. The entire thing is much more reminiscent of Super Mario 64 and it is very obvious the faults of Super Mario Sunshine were learned and corrected. The imaginative worlds take everything to the next level, mainly due to the unique gravity aspect.
The worlds throw Mario around in every way – literally. Since the levels are in outer space the typical rules of gravity don’t apply. Instead, every platform has its own pull. Large spheres can be run around, typical flat platforms can be run under and on the side of, and in many cases jumping off the side of the level is just jumping under it. It’s hard to explain well but is executed perfectly. If Portal was a one way ticket to motion sickness, Super Mario Galaxy could be considered a syringe of it.
That is the core the game. It takes the platformer as far as it can go and kills it. Never again will a game do to platforming what Super Mario Galaxy does. The level design is brilliant and just as polished as any Nintendo fan should expect. The only sour spot is the occasional camera malfunction that will leave a confused stare on the face of any gamer, but they are easily resolved and forgotten amidst the pure bliss the game puts forth.
The Wii controller isn’t abused in any way as it has been in some titles. Its uses are for mild motion sensing in the ways of a spin attack, executed by shaking either part of the controller, and collecting Star Bits by pointing at them with the remote. Star Bits are used to unlock new levels and can be fired at enemies to stun them. It isn’t a necessity and the game could have been made just as brilliant without it, but the addition isn’t at all a negative thing.
The thought of “this would be better with just a joystick” isn’t really an issue like it was been in other Wii games. Motion compliments the game and is never a hindrance. Other times the remote is used to move objects or act as a wind source to blow Mario around. Without the remote these parts would have had to be remade and the game is, on the whole, better with them.
The graphics are also amazing for the Wii, bringing the entire world (or galaxy) to life. It runs at a very smooth framerate and looks as good as any game on the system and nearly as good as any game on any other.
The game is the closest to perfection in the history of the Mario franchise, but it is still a Mario title. Mario games are wonderful and full of whimsy but this doesn't break far enough from the old ones to really be considered a 10. Some small issues with the camera keep it from perfection as well, but this is about as close as any platformer will get. It does what Super Mario Brothers did for the NES and what Super Mario 64 did for the N64. Here it is, folks, this is the reason the Wii was made. Enjoy it when it hits shelves on November 12th in America.